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Friday, December 14, 2018

The unity of the American Jewish community and its relationship with Israel was on display Monday evening when Vice President Mike Pence addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference at the Washington Convention Center before 18,000 delegates. This is despite the fact that Pence, and especially his boss, Donald Trump, cause a visceral reaction from Jews on the center and left side of the aisle.

Pence did not mince his words when he talked about how President Trump has kept his campaign promises on Israel: that he had no hesitation in naming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in May will officially move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

With each comment, those who couldn’t bear the thought of a Trump/Pence administration were standing alongside those who most assuredly supported and voted for one and continue to back the Republican Party. And the applause was neither tepid nor merely polite. It was loud, boisterous and emotional. Republican Jews, Democrat Jews—almost all of those in attendance stood for the vice president.

That’s what makes an event such as the AIPAC Policy Conference so extraordinary within American Judaism. Our democracy gives us that freedom to disagree and choose the candidate we desire. And when it came to the support of Israel from the AIPAC crowd, party affiliation just didn’t matter. Israel was what mattered. And whether Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) or Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) took the podium, they were getting the reaction from the crowd that mattered the most: unity.

Don’t think that Iran or Russia doesn’t get that.

Because it’s among the most powerful of messages.

In the convention hall of our nation’s capital we showed off perhaps one of our greatest strengths as a Jewish people: the unity and strength we have built between Israel and the United States.